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Dick Palmer, Andrew Barnes, Chloe Smith, Julia Nix and Nigel Pickover at the launch of the Norwich For Jobs initiative supported by local businesses, education groups and job support services.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Norwich for Jobs: Gauntlet thrown down to employers

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
9.17 AM

For Norwich For Jobs to succeed, 1,000 people aged 18 to 24 years old need to earn themselves a job by the end of 2015.

In its simplest terms, that means the county’s businesses need to have – or create – 1,000 vacancies in that time that they are willing to give to a young worker keen to start building themselves a career.

Seems like a big ask, doesn’t it?

But the foundation behind the initiative is keen to stress that those employers backing the campaign can find many other ways to help.

From work placements and work-based training to CV advice and mock interviews, Norwich For Jobs wants local businesses to get involved in any way they can to improve the prospects of an unemployed young person.

When it comes to finding a job, 18 to 24-year-olds can find it difficult for a wide variety of reasons. The most common concern – from both young people and employers – is a lack of experience of the working world and a company’s specific industry.

Posy Cuthbertson, a 21-year-old graduate living in Norwich, described it as a “Catch 22 situation”: “You need experience to get work, you need work to get experience,” she said.

A lack of confidence will often stand in their way and will get worse the more knock-backs they experience.

And with relatively little experience of interviews and job applications compared with their older competitors, it can be difficult to find out where they are going wrong.

According to Julia Nix, regional manager for Job Centre Plus in the East, addressing some of those problems can be done in a variety of ways with impressive success rates.

“It’s the small things, the tiny small things that can help – like a mock interview. Any support or guidance is welcome.

“From one mock interview to a full- blown job, each step helps a single person. That one mock interview could help that single person into a job later on,” she said.

The most successful type of support comes in the form of pre-employment training which, according to Mrs Nix, has an 85pc chance of leading to a job.

The training is often provided by the Job Centre and can be tailored to suit a specific job or industry. It helps address the issue of a lack of experience in a particular field and reassures employers a young person has the kind of knowledge and attitude to work they are looking for.

Work experience has a 50pc chance of leading to a job and requires absolutely no commitment from a business when they agree to give someone that opportunity.

“Most work programmes have a 30pc to 40pc success rate in terms of leading to a job or an apprenticeship,” said Mrs Nix.

“Sometimes it’s about the employer just realising that the talent is out there. Sometimes it gives guidance and support for an individual who can then work out what they were doing wrong – what they were saying wrong in an interview, or not putting the right thing in their CV.

“Sometimes it’s just a confidence boost that somebody has shown an interest and they no longer think they are useless.”

At City College Norwich, chief executive Dick Palmer, who like Mrs Nix is a steering group member of Norwich For Jobs, has seen the positive impact those programmes and opportunities can have.

He said: “It’s really important to understand just how the workplace operates for young people to feel confident when they go forward to an interview.

“We really do want to encourage people willing to help with CV writing, do mock interviews, a placement, whether it’s just one day or one day a week for six months. All of those can really make a difference to young people who will find it extremely hard because the vacancies out there are few and far between and the people with experience will have a better chance.”

A couple of years ago, City College ran a project with Norwich-based Tribe PR which saw students learning to tailor their CVs and fill in an application for a fictional job.

The best candidates were invited for an interview and the prize for the student who impressed most was an internship with Tribe.

Mr Palmer said it proved hugely successful for her. “The girl, at the end of that year, got a job with another PR company. She was really clear that it was the experience leading up to that internship that made a real difference to her,” he said.

To find out more about the Norwich For Jobs campaign and to get involved go to: www.norwichforjobs.org.uk, follow @norwichforjobs on Twitter or go to the Norwich Foundation For Jobs page on Facebook.

Don’t miss the chance to find your perfect job by visiting Archant Norfolk’s Jobs Fair at Norwich City Football Club on Thursday, March 7, 9am-6pm. Admission and car parking are free.

For more details, contact Alison White on 01603 772115 or email her at alison.white@archant.co.uk